16 items from 2015
At least once a month, Cinelinx will chose one director for an in-depth examination of the “signatures” that they leave behind in their work. This week we’re examining the trademark style and calling signs of Stanley Kubrick as director.
Kubrick’s interest in visual arts began with photography before he became interested in filmmaking. He enjoyed making short films and became very proficient at doing so. Eventually he made his first feature film The Killing Fields (1953) as an exercise in low-budget filmmaking. That film was not a commercial success, and he had to work hard to get funding to keep working as a filmmaker. His next film, Killer’s Kiss (1955) involved a lot of experimentation, so much that it ended up eating into the budget and costing Kubrick a profit. As a result, he decided to work with a professional crew on his next film, The Killing (1956), which also did not become commercially successful, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (G.S. Perno)
In 1998, two celebrated American directors each delivered a World War II film depicting the horrors of war. The directors were Terrence Malick and Steven Spielberg, proffering “The Thin Red Line” and “Saving Private Ryan,” respectively. While Spielberg’s classic focuses on the individual’s sacrifice and pain in service of a worthwhile mission taking place in WWII, Malick’s film is an anti-war tone poem that could just as easily be about the Vietnam war, examining how the destruction of war affects all of nature. A video essay from Adam Laity deconstructs the way landscapes and natural environments are used in those films among others. Running just over 20 minutes, the video reads classics like “Apocalypse Now” and “Full Metal Jacket” closely, dissecting how a director can use the setting of a film to drive home certain themes. Big chunks of the essay are devoted to both Coppola’s and Malick »
- Cain Rodriguez
"Wait, what is 'Focus' again?" This is a question that is usually fired back at me, over the past few weeks, when people ask me what I've seen recently and really liked.
Lately, when I run down the movies I've seen recently, "Focus" is always one of those movies I mention, because I really, really liked it. But then, without fail, the person I am talking to asks what "Focus" is. And then I have to explain it to them. This probably has to do with the film's nebulous title and equally nebulous ad campaign, which isn't exactly explanatory (or particularly evocative or moody). So let me tell you just what "Focus" is, exactly. And when I explain what it is, you'll probably be shocked you haven't heard more about it.
- Drew Taylor
This article contains a spoiler for the ending of Interstellar.
In case you missed it, the Oscars were this past weekend and Birdman was the big winner. The Academy’s choice to award Alejandro González Iñárritu's fever dream was a genuine shock, with Boyhood the running favourite for many months. Nonetheless, some things never change, and in that vein it's certainly a non-surprise the Academy also hardly noticed the most ambitious blockbuster of 2014: the Christopher Nolan space epic, Interstellar. Indeed, I use the phrase "non-surprise", because how could it be a winner when it was only nominated for the bare minimum of five Oscars in technical categories that are reserved as consolation prizes?
This is by all means par for the course with a film that has »
Chicago – Oscar! Oscar! Oscar! Say it three times to win it, and you’ll win every Academy Award pool you enter – at least for the nine categories covered here – if you follow the advice of the HollywoodChicago.com “experts.” We have the Oscar magic, so if you believe in it, then we deliver.
Three film writers of HollywoodChicago.com – Patrick McDonald, Nick Allen and Spike Walters – will not only predict Sunday’s big night, but will suggest choreography to Neil Patrick Harris for his opening number. The crew will opine on Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress and Director. As in previous years, the prognostications are broken down into thoughts on who Will Win, Should Win and Should Have Been Nominated (for one last gasp of dissent). The predictors will also take on a wild card guess for several other categories, and the latest odds on the rest of »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Exclusive Q&A: It arrived too late to factor in guild and critics awards, but the Clint Eastwood-directed American Sniper has established such a connection with American movie audiences that its dark horse chances of upsetting the Oscar status quo cannot be ignored. It passed Saving Private Ryan to become the highest domestic grossing war movie ever; it even shot past the U.S. gross of Bradley Cooper’s previous biggest hit, The Hangover, and trails only The Passion Of The Christ for biggest-ever R-rated domestic grosser. This, for a hard R film about the wartime exploits and horrors faced by the most dangerous sniper in U.S. military history, and the price paid by Chris Kyle, wife Taya, and his fellow soldiers tasked with door to door searches in Sadr City when it was the most dangerous place in Iraq.
Nominated for Best Actor for his spare portrayal of the Navy Seal sharpshooter, »
- Mike Fleming Jr
Turner nominated artists The Wilson sisters, Louise Wilson and Jane Wilson, have been in Rotterdam this weekend for the international premiere of their new piece Undead Sun, originally presented in London’s Imperial War Museum last year.
Undead Sun sees the Newcastle-born sisters investigating the uses of disguise and camouflage in war. They regard the film as a natural successor to their 2011 work, Face Scripting: What Did the Building See. This was about the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh by Mossad agents in a Dubai hotel.
“It was looking at CCTV and looking at covert imagery,” Jane Wilson says of a film which explores how contemporary warfare has moved from old fashioned battlefields into the luxurious confines of a modern, upmarket hotel. “What we were thinking about was how technology has developed through facial recognition and through use of CCTV.”
When the First World War started, the sisters note, there were still »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Geoffrey Macnab)
Some people sit back and complain about the state of comic book movies, and then carry on making films in the same vein. For the third time in his career, director Matthew Vaughn has actively gone out of his way to do something about it.
The first such occasion was the commendably Daily Mail-baiting Kick-Ass, a film that beneath its energy, ideas, music and fruity language had real substance to it, and plenty of rewatch value. Oh, and an 18 certificate. I fondly remember such things.
Then his X-Men film, X-Men: First Class, put character firmly at the fore, at least until the special effects moved in for a large chunk of the final act. In both cases, there was a real sense that Vaughn had taken the films on because there »
Witness the aftermath of a demonic ritual when the spine-tingling thriller, Altar, terrifies on DVD and Digital HD February 17 from Cinedigm (Nasdaq: Cidm) and Great Point Media. From Nick Willing, the mastermind writer who brought audiences “Tin Man” and “Neverland,” comes the creepy, satanic tale full of ghostly torture and sorcery, headlined by Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Married to the Mob), Olivia Williams (“Manhattan,” The Sixth Sense) and Antonia Clarke (Les … Continue reading →
Moviegoers can finally enjoy a film with a genuine hero who served his country and fought in a righteous war
The New England Patriots spent this past weekend earning a spot in the Super Bowl. But many more patriots went to the movies and propelled “American Sniper” to a record-setting January box office weekend.
In doing so, they officially declared war against the likes of Michael Moore, Seth Rogen and so many liberal, peace loving, pot-smoking A-listers and Hollywood suits who, since the 1970s, have had an ambivalent, if not disdainful relationship with war movies in general, and American patriotism in particular. »
- Thane Rosenbaum
Arrow Films has debuted a new UK trailer for military drama, Good Kill. Starring Ethan Hawke as a former Las Vegas fighter pilot, the film charts his emotional journey as he winds up becoming a drone pilot for the Us military. Splitting his days between his sky high employment, which sees him at the controls of a lethal machine aimed at the Taliban and a quaint, suburban existence, his inquisitive mind soon gets the better of him.
Directed by Andrew Niccols – who previously worked with Hawke on Gattaca – Good Kill looks to be venturing into similar thematic territory explored by Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. Whereas Eastwood’s flick dug beneath the facade of a sniper returning from conflict, Good Kill finds Hawke’s protagonist hooked into a steady day job that troubles him by night.
We’ve previously seen footage in the first trailer released earlier this month, and »
- Gem Seddon
Ethan Hawke and filmmaker Andrew Niccol reunite after collaborating on Gattaca and Lord of War in the second international trailer for Good Kill, debuting just weeks after the first footage arrived. The film tells the story of a Las Vegas fighter-pilot turned drone-pilot (Ethan Hawke), who fights the Taliban via remote control for half of his day, then goes home to his wife (January Jones) and kids in the suburbs for the other half. But the pilot is starting to question the mission.
Is he creating more terrorists than he's killing? Is he fighting a war without end? One soldier's tale with epic implications. Good Kill is a visually stunning exploration of how a man's psychological, emotional and moral boundaries are challenged by the realities of 21st century warfare. The film initiates an important dialogue about the current techniques used in modern war, and in the same vein as The Hurt Locker »
The struggles of a young drummer at an elite music school make for surprisingly gripping viewing, solos and all
Q: How do you know if there’s a drummer at your front door? A: He knocks three times then comes in late. Badoom tish! The perennial butt of countless muso-jokes, drummers have long been the source of morbidly outlandish legend, from tragicomic screen-gags about the Thamesmen’s timekeeper dying in a bizarre gardening accident, to tales of Spinal Tap’s Peter “James” Bond spontaneously combusting on the Isle of Lucy. Even in documentaries, drummers have been portrayed more as wildlife than musicians; think of Beware of Mr Baker, which opens with Cream tub-thumper Ginger Baker whacking his interviewer across the face with his cane, breaking his nose. No wonder Animal from the Muppets struck such a chord.
Three cheers, then, for one-time aspiring-drummer Damien Chazelle, writer/director of this whip-smart »
- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic
Paul Rieckhoff is CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (Iava), an Iraq veteran, and the author of “Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier’s Perspective.” He offers his thoughts on Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” in a guest column.
I’ve seen just about every film about the Iraq War ever made. I’ve produced and associate produced a few. I even appeared in one (for about a millisecond). And without a doubt, “American Sniper” is the single best work of film about the Iraq War ever made.
Now, it’s not the most complex film. Not the deepest film. Not even the most provocative. But in terms of storytelling, action, emotion, production and performance, attention to detail and especially the frighteningly accurate soundscape, there’s been nothing else close that’s been made since my platoon entered the war in Iraq »
- Paul Rieckhoff
Watching Whiplash, the story of the antagonistic relationship between a drumming prodigy and his ferociously demanding conservatory music teacher, almost the last thing on your mind is music. Although almost three-quarters of the film moves to the sound of drums, the images in one’s mind veer more towards drill sergeant movies, sports flicks and cult initiation rites. It could as well be called Squarebash as Whiplash, so often does the relationship between Jk Simmons’s unforgiving professor and Miles Teller’s whimpering pupil resemble that between R Lee Ermey’s splenetic Marine Corps drill instructor and Vincent D’Onofrio’s useless grunt in the opening act of Full Metal Jacket, »
- John Patterson
One of the most pressing predicaments facing not only the armed forces, but society in general is the exponential growth of technology. As a fundamental tool, it’s redefined how we approach various everyday tasks, quite often replacing the need for human interaction altogether. And one of the areas that this phenomena has occurred is on the front lines, with governments opting to carry out deadly strikes with pilot-controlled drones, thereby minimising any potential danger.
But such a detachment also throws up an array of moral questions — moral questions that serve as the crux for Andrew Niccol’s upcoming war drama Good Kill, which has unveiled its very first trailer today.
Starring Ethan Hawke as a former pilot now slated with carrying out kills from afar using the latest, morally ambiguous drone tech, the film will see his mental state gradually deteriorate as he begins to question exactly what he is doing. »
- Michael Briers
16 items from 2015
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